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Book Description

Stanley Porter's Fundamentals of New Testament Greek first-year textbook offers a comprehensive introduction to the grammar and vocabulary of the Greek New Testament. It discusses all the forms and basic syntax of Koine Greek, complete with extensive paradigms, examples, and explanations. The accompanying workbook provides exercises, with NT sentences and paragraphs to translate, for each of the thirty lessons, plus review exercises after every five chapters.

This text aims high, appealing to the most motivated learners. The authors make their challenge clear in the introduction:

In an effort to minimize incompleteness, we have included fuller and more comprehen- sive discussions, definitions, and presentation of material than are usually found in other beginning grammars. Students may initially find this approach daunting, though we are convinced that, in the long run, it will serve them better. Not all of the material is for instantaneous learning or instant recall, but collectively it is meant to lay a solid foundation, to fill in gaps, and to provide an understanding that is both broad and deep.

The discussions are clear, with variety in typestyle and layout reinforcing the various learning tasks. The information is unusually complete, with full treatment of Greek features that often receive little or no coverage in first-year texts (e.g., verbal aspect, periphrastic constructions, μι-verbs, the optative mood, the pluperfect tense, and the Greek accent system).


The thirty chapters each follow a common sequence:

  • A bulleted list of the two or three main things to be learned in the chapter
  • Concepts: definitions of the key grammatical terms introduced
  • Vocabulary: organized by word class (nouns, verbs, adjectives, other)
  • Grammatical points, often divided by form and function:
  • forms — presented in a standard format, with formula (in different typeface and format) example paradigms, showing (1) the parsing abbreviation for each form, (2) the "components" (the 2–5 morphemes composing each form), (3) the inflected form, and (4) the gloss comments on any irregularities in spelling or accent
    functions — clearly explained, often illustrated by examples from the Greek NT [These grammatical points, in distinctive format, sometimes consist of more advanced material primarily for reference or for fuller background information.]
  • Paradigms: full listing of examples for all grammatical points covered in the chapter, with the relevant formulas and commentary on unusual forms
  • Summary: a list of all concepts and formulas presented in the chapter.

Throughout, the authors carefully explain and illustrate the difference between aspect and tense. Aspect — the speaker or writer's perspective on the action of the verb — is the primary category of Greek verb usage. It is expressed by the selection of a particular tense-form (aorist, present, perfect, etc.). The authors make clear the enigmatic nature of the Greek future tense, which, alone among the six Greek tense-forms, does not clearly convey aspect. They also fully discuss the handful of aspectually vague verbs in Greek (primarily einai, "to be"), or verbs that lack a full set of tense-forms and thus do not offer language-users a choice of aspect.

Also throughout, the authors emphasize parsing - that is, identifying fully and in a standard order all the formal features of Greek verbs, nouns, adjectives, and pronouns. This emphasis is put to use in the accompanying workbook, where exercises call for (1) creating various forms of a given word, (2) parsing forms, and (3) substituting one form for another.

The workbook exercises also include translations of material from the Greek New Testament, with extensive helps provided for words and syntactic uses not yet introduced.

Copyright © 2011, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company